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Archive for June, 2013

 

An old favorite, Southern Living Magazine, has come up with a FANTASTIC summer guide for Austin!
It’s a cute read…so incredible that Austin is on EVERYONE’s radar these
days…Austin’s Summer Guide!

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Chances are you spend a good amount of time in your family room, so why are so many of its components out of date? It’s totally understandable if you’ve been allocating your remodelling funds for other key areas of your home, but now it’s time to focus on your main living space. You may not be able to afford to redo the space from top to bottom, but that’s OK. We share some of the most important elements to focus your attention on.

 

The walls

Believe it or not, a fresh coat of paint can do a lot for a room, especially if the space feels dull or flat. It doesn’t even have to be a particularly bold or striking colour — just something that makes the room you spend so much time living in feel more alive. For an extra-fun vibe, consider painting or wallpapering one wall in a cool, bright hue and leaving the remaining walls neutral. Benjamin Moore has a huge variety of colours to choose from, and its website offers some great tools to help you decide which one will work best in your space.

The floors

No matter how much you cover the floor of your family room with rugs and furniture, it will never disappear completely, so you might as well like it. If you have an old-looking carpet or scuffed-up hardwood, it’s time for a change. Re-carpeting or re-flooring can be pricey, so shop around at a few dealers to find one you’re comfortable with. Ask for samples and swatches to test out in your living room, and don’t settle until you come across one you love.

Television stand

These days we spend a fair amount of time in the family room, looking at the TV. So the last thing you want is for it to be sitting on a table or inside a cabinet that looks worn down or as though it’s from the ’70s. Look for a piece that truly fits in with the rest of your decor. If your living room is filled with antiques, go for a classic wooden look. Or if you like a more modern feel, track down a TV stand with clean lines and a glossy hue.

The couch

A worn-down or out-of-date couch can really detract from a space. If you feel yours isn’t doing anything to add to the look and feel of the room, consider investing in an update. The important thing is to look for a sofa that has an element of “timelessness” to it. Couches are expensive, so it is often best to buy a piece you love and know will fit in with your space for years to come. If you can’t afford to purchase a brand new sofa, consider a slipcover and some inspiring throw pillows to spruce things up. Ikea has dozens of fun pillows to choose from, so you’re sure to find several that fit in perfectly with your look.

Artwork

The easiest and most budget-friendly way to update your family room is through the decorations and artwork you incorporate. It’s easy to get used to looking at blank walls or random paintings, but having such a scattered or uninspiring space isn’t as much fun as having a warm sitting room to come home to. So liven it up! If you can’t figure out how a piece of art fits with the room, maybe it doesn’t belong there and it’s time to try something new. Have fun with it!

Preview orginal article here

Compliments of: Martha Small | Austin Portfolio Real Estate | 512.587.0308

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It’s not just the temp that’s hot in Austin…

the Austin Real Estate market is sizzling!

AUSTIN — Thursday we’ll get the latest look at Austin’s housing market when the Austin Board of Realtors releasing the latest housing figures.

April saw the most home sales since 2004. Summer usually brings a spike in sales, so we wanted to show you hottest selling neighborhoods in Austin.

Location, location, location — that’s often what sells a home and it’s more so than ever right now in Austin.

“We have people knocking on the doors asking if we want to sell,” said Tamara Finley.

Just down the street from Finley is a prime example. A three bedroom home on Tortuga Trail near 2222 with a backyard pool and a view of Lake Austin sold within 24 hours for more than a million dollars.

“It moved very quickly,” said Real Estate Agent Eric Copper.

Copper works for Keller Williams, the largest real estate company in Austin.

“Most of the homes I’ve sold this year have been multiple offer situations,” said Copper.

KVUE wanted to know the fastest selling areas around Austin. Copper said these are the top four:

  • Downtown Austin where median prices have increased 14 percent in the last year to $370,000 dollars.
  • Central Austin just north of West Campus — median prices are about the same — up 15 percent to $360,000.
  • West Austin near MoPac which includes Tarrytown, Pemberton Heights and Clarksville — median prices rose 16 percent to $640,000.
  • Prices jumped the most in East Austin between MLK and Riverside – 17 percent — yet they’re still among the most affordable with the median at $205,000.

“East Austin’s doing very well,” said Copper. “It had the highest increase in median sales price from April of last year to this year.”

However the real estate market isn’t all rosy including areas around Lake Travis. Low lake levels, distance from the city and bigger properties have been a tough sell. However, with that comes opportunity.

“Particularly people interested in purchasing lakefront property or properties surrounding the water, I think now is the time to buy,” said Copper.

Even those people living in the fastest selling neighborhoods see the good and bad of this booming housing market.

“That’s good for selling if not you’re paying taxes,” said Finley.

Interest rates remain relatively low, and so is Austin’s inventory. The latest figures show if no new homes went on the market, we’d run out in less than three months.

Preview orginal article here

Compliments of: Martha Small | Austin Portfolio Real Estate | 512.587.0308

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Buying or selling a home is one of the hardest decisions anyone can ever make. You want a great space that will suit your everyday needs. And once you’re settled, you’ll probably want to make every inch of the place your own. So here’s a list of the top renovations you can do that will not only customize your space, they’ll also add value to your home.

1Concentrate on the kitchen

People spend most of their time in the kitchen (cooking, entertaining), so it’s the first place where you should spend your renovation money. Look for customizable counters, like granite instead of laminate. There are plenty of inexpensive cupboard options at places like Ikea. Fixtures also matter. Reach for incredible sink faucets, like those from Delta. Opt for high-efficiency appliances from companies like Electrolux. These are all little things that will add value to your house when you are ready to sell it.

2Finish an unfinished space

One of the best ways to up the value of your house is to create more of it. So if you have a large basement that’s unfinished, fix it up. Drywall the walls. Finish the ceiling. Add potlights. By adding square footage, you’ll end up with more useable space (and you’ll be able to ask for more money when it comes time to sell).

3Look to the bathroom

Another place people spend a lot of time in is the bathroom. Another renovation idea that will add value to your house is to focus on redoing the bathroom sink or shower. That doesn’t mean you need to spend a lot of money. Places like Rona and Canadian Tire offer great suggestions on how to spruce up a bathroom space without breaking the bank.

4Go energy efficient

The cost of oil, gas and hydro are going to keep going up, which is why so many people are opting for greener forms of power, like Bullfrog. Solar panels are even becoming de rigueur in high-income neighbourhoods. So look into making your home more energy efficient by getting new windows or buying appliances that waste less energy. Also, take the time to upgrade wiring or plumbing (outdated infrastructure will not only decrease the value of your home, it also makes it less insurable). As an added incentive, the Government of Canada now offers programs to help reduce costs of “greening” projects.

5Maintain everything over time

Little things also matter when it comes to increasing the value of your home. When you’re painting, make sure you tape everything so baseboards or flooring don’t get covered in paint. Add trim or crown moulding where possible. Use lights, curtains and rugs to make your space feel comfortably lived in. And always keep your space clear of clutter or waste (Bagster Dumpster in a Bag, a handy new product, will help you clear your space of almost anything).

When you start looking into renovating certain areas of your house, remember to always think about what would add value first and foremost. Once the time come to sell your house, you’ll be happy you kept these tips top of mind!

Orginal article By:    Sarah Kelsy  with Home & Living /Remodelling and Home Improvement

Preview orginally article here

Compliments of: Martha Small | Austin Portfolio Real Estate | 512.587.0308

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Foursquare has attracted a ton of buzz as the latest craze in social networking. Some say this popular iPhone app may even be the next Twitter or Facebook. You’ve probably seen one of your friends brag about being the new “Foursquare mayor” of a certain location. Whether you are visiting a local bar or checking out the latest restaurant, the Foursquare app helps you connect with friends or find new things to do in your hometown.

https://foursquare.com/

What is Foursquare?

The app uses the iPhone’s built-in GPS to display restaurants, bars, parks, and other attractions in your city. When you visit any of those locations, you “check in” on the FourSquare app, which broadcasts your location to your friends. You’ll also see where your friends have checked in, which helps you meet up with them or find new things to do.

After you’ve checked in, you can write reviews and tips for the location, which will be available to other Foursquare users. These tips include everything from the best thing to order off a restaurant’s menu or the secret cocktail that is a must-order at a local bar.

What is a Foursquare Mayor?

You earn points for each new location you check into on Foursquare. Get enough points and you’ll earn badges like “Super User” or “Explorer.” If you check into one location more than anyone else, you become the “Foursquare mayor” of that location, but that title is stripped if someone checks in more than you. Some locations offer goodies for mayors of Foursquare, including free drinks or restaurant discounts.

Foursquare Cities

Foursquare is currently only available in major metro areas, like Atlanta, Dallas, New York, and Los Angeles.

But does the Foursquare app live up to all the hype? Our full review is coming soon.

The FourSquare app is also available for Android, Blackberry, and Palm phones. You can download the Foursquare iPhone app at the iTunes Store.

 

Compliments of: Martha Small | Austin Portfolio Real Estate | 512.587.0308

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As Austin invests locally while thinking regionally, it can solve part of the puzzle by adding new road capacity and creating attractive alternatives to driving alone, or – as it is in rush hour – sitting in a car alone and pulling forward every few minutes. Urban Rail is an important part of a much larger, highly networked road and transit system developing throughout the Austin region.

Urban Rail expands the successful MetroRail passenger rail and will connect people to where they live, work and play in the City of Austin, with electric-powered, fixed-rail cars.

It can take the stress out of getting to major employment and entertainment destinations, with service expected every 10 to 15 minutes during rush hour.

Read more from a recent article posted May 2013.

Urban rail coming to Austin? Plan could finish as early as 2014

Austinites shouldn’t expect to be boarding a bullet train to Barton Springs anytime soon, but urban rail took a big step forward this past week.

Community Impact News reported that members of the Transit Working Group met with Austin mayor Lee Leffingwell on May 10 to discuss the prospect of bringing a sophisticated, efficient urban rail system to the capital city. In the meeting, Leffingwell described the plan as having the potential for completion by early 2014. He also indicated that the plan may surface for voter approval on the first 2014 city-wide ballot.

“We talked about setting a tentative wrap-up date of mid-February, which would enable the City of Austin, if it chooses to do so, to put this on the ballot in May election,” the mayor told TWG members. “It’s not necessarily my preference. November is the other option, and I know that gives us a lot more flexibility. I think it would be good to set that target and timetable to achieve that target.”

Working in conjunction with Project Connect – an organization that works with transportation companies to help develop urban transit plans throughout Central Texas – the Transit Working Group is a subsidiary of the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization, and was created to explore the prospect of implementing regional rail in Austin. Securing financing for Project Connect’s $4 billion plan is the next step in the process, and detailed blueprints for segmenting city corridors to accommodate region-specific rail lines are already under way.

“We’ve got a lot of work to do in a short amount of time,” said Kyle Keahey, Project Connect’s urban rail lead, to Community Impact News. “We don’t have the time to be distracted, and so you’re going to see in our project efforts a very clear focus on the objectives moving forward.”

Orginal Article By: Emma Kat Richardson

Compliments of: Martha Small | Austin Portfolio Real Estate | 512.587.0308

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Silicon Valley is still the gold standard for tech entrepreneurship. However, Austin is now emerging as a new destination of choice for tech startups as well as larger enterprise companies — for a variety of economic and cultural reasons.

Companies like Apple, Google, Facebook and Oracle are headquartered in Silicon Valley and there’s no question it’s is a hotbed of skilled labor; both workers and entrepreneurs from around the world migrate to the Valley to pursue their dreams and careers. It’s not unusual for startups to land funding rounds in the neighborhood of $50 million.

Austin is doing the same thing, just in a more organic, sustainable manner. Austin now hosts a healthy mix of larger companies and savvy entrepreneurs coming in droves from California, New York and other tech hotbeds. Private investors are often surprised at the number of seasoned executives operating here, but the truth is that Austin has grown into one of the nation’s go-to spots for startups and large players alike, and a market for high-growth companies to thrive.

A year-round ecosystem for success

One estimate has it that one-third of the companies that are moving to Texas originated in California, where the high cost of doing business often sends companies looking for alternate options. In addition to homegrown companies like Dell, established tech companies that employ more than 2,000 people in Austin include Apple, Microsoft, AT&T, Flextronics and Samsung.

We’re also home to an ecosystem of hot startups spanning across numerous industry sectors: OutboundEngine (DIY marketing), Taskbox (social task management), Macheen and Mutual Mobile (mobile), Zilliant (pricing optimization), WP Engine (site hosting) Bazaarvoice (social commerce) and GameSalad (gaming) and numerous other exciting and rapidly growing startups.

Austin’s economy is diversified outside of hardware and software, too. We’re a biotech hub with more than 160 companies and 8,200 employees. Whole Foods, Keller Williams, Sweet Leaf Tea and many other major brands are also headquartered in Austin.

Incentives for growth

One of the most unique draws for companies is the incentives structure propagated by the state of Texas. The state offers companies about $19 billion per year in incentives, the highest amount of any state in the union. The Emerging Technology Fund in particular reflects Texas’s commitment to growth within the tech sector. This fund awards grants that help product development, public-private partnerships and the recruitment of research talent. So far, more than $410 million in awards have been given, with an estimated 54,000 jobs created.

Austin has arranged an ecosystem that welcomes early-stage companies in particular. Our incubators, notably the Austin Technology Incubator, and Capital Factory, nourish young companies. Our universities, which include the University of Texas and Texas A&M, feed our talent pool, as do colleges from the southeast and Midwest. A recent Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL) reportranked Austin as the fifth major U.S. technology market out of 20 surveyed. Austin’s nearly 2,600 tech companies provide 50,000 jobs; the sector grew by 8.1 percent in 2012. When you consider that each innovation job creates an additional five jobs in the local economy, it’s no wonder that Austin continues to see net growth, even during the national recession.

Low Taxes, low cost of living

Greater Austin is one of the nation’s fastest-growing metropolitan area according to the most recent available statistics; 65 percent of the population migrated here.

In addition to a favorable funding, regulatory and legal environment for businesses, Austin boasts housing costs, utility expenses and tax burdens that are lower than most of the rest of the country. Texans don’t have to pay corporate or personal income tax. It is 47th of the 50 states in terms of taxes paid per $1,000 of personal income, according to the local chamber of commerce.

Compare that to Silicon Valley, where housing prices are more than three times higher than in Austin, and hefty taxes and regulations challenge the ability for companies to compete on securing the best talent.

Bigger Doesn’t Mean Better

Like Austin, Silicon Valley started organically. Back in the 1980s, it used to be the Valley against Boston. The Valley won because of its casual culture, freedom to experiment, and collaborative environment . People flocked from the Midwest and elsewhere to pursue their entrepreneurship and innovation dreams.

That’s akin to where Austin is today. The JLL report termed Austin a rising market, whereas Silicon Valley and San Francisco are closer to being peaking markets. Investors love our open landscape, literally and figuratively: information sharing and collaboration are standard practice here in Austin. Our seed rounds may be smaller, but we focus on organic growth to scale our companies, cultivating a sustainable environment in the process.

Everything Silicon Valley is doing, we’re doing, too — just on a smaller scale. And that comes with its own unique benefits.

Preview orginal article here

Orginal Article By: Julie Huls, President and CEO of the Austin Technology Council
Read more at http://venturebeat.com/2013/03/05/why-austin-is-techs-new-destination-of-choice/#rbmlY2vjPysqt7Me.99

Compliments of: Martha Small | Austin Portfolio Real Estate | 512.587.0308

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